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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  January 15, 2013 1:00am-2:00am PST

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tomorrow night on the heels of the one-month anniversary of the massacre at sandy hook, joe biden hands his recommendations on gun violence, i'll host a live one-hour special. "guns in america." i'll be talking to people on both sides, including maryland attorney general beau biden who says military style assault weapons have no place on the streets, his own brother is a casualty of gun violence that says that the victims in newtown are being used by propaganda. the families of the victims of the aurora movie theater massacre. be part of a live audience in my new york city studio. go to my website for details. that's all for us tonight.
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"ac 360" starts now. "ac360" starts now. the crowds and reporters and law enforcement personnel are gone but the pain for many families remains. for the first time today in this town hall behind me, family members of 11 victims of the shootings appeared to start what they hope becomes a national conversation, a conversation about mental health and school safety and what they call gun responsibility. you'll hear from a number of families tonight about how they are coping one month on since they lost their son or their daughter, their brother or sister. much of the world may have moved on but grief does not conform to any timetable and tonight we wanted to be here in newtown to remind the world what happened here and to show the world what's happened since. so many here who have ample reason to huddle behind walls of
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grief and grieving have done something more, something braver than anyone has a right to expect in the best of times, let alone the worst. they've reached out, reached out to one another and in ways large and small have begun to turn tragedy into transformation. united in grief, united in hope, united in newtown. 27 wooden angels in newtown, one for each victim of the massacre. but one month later, that display and most of the other memorials have been taken down. gifts sent from all over the world now preserved in a warehouse to become part of a future permanent memorial. visible reminders of the tragedy mostly gone. the community, however, is still struggling. just today, dozens of family members gathered to announce a mission to promote a national dialogue on gun violence, mental health and school safety. for many of the families involved it's one way to honor the loved ones they lost.
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>> it is a sad honor to be here today. it has been a month since i lost my son, dylan, and 25 other families lost their loved ones. at times it feels like only yesterday, and other times it feels as if many years have passed. i still find myself reaching for dylan's hand to walk across the parking lot or expecting him to crawl into bed beside me for early morning cuddles before school. it is hard to believe he is gone. >> it is steel hard, the crime scene remains empty and the future of the building unclear. but the children of newtown are back in school, using a nearby middle school building in a nearby town while the educators figure out the school district and how to keep the children of sandy hook together. >> we're very strong, we're a strong community, you know, we're going to have our bumps along the way but we're working hard together and that is what is important. >> one month later with the
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national debate on gun control under way, some families in newtown are eager to have a voice in the debate. >> the horror of knowing that these are innocent 6 and 7-year-olds who were so grievously harmed and killed and were so terribly harmed and killed by a man who was flawed in his judgment and had access to assault weapons and other weapons, as well. we need to have courage as a society to ask those hard questions. do we have the right controls in place? if not, let's take some action. >> residents of this community say they refuse to be remembered only for their loss. they hope the name newtown will be forever known not for this deadly shooting but as a turning point for change. we'll be talking throughout the evening with people at the forefront on that effort here in newtown, across the state and across the country. in a moment, astronaut mark kelly, who nearly saw his wife die during a gun incident, will
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be here to talk about what they're doing to end gun violence. and right now we're remembering how the community is coming together spiritually and how people, parents are dealing with so much loss. matt and jennifer hubbard join me. they lost their daughter, catheri catherine, who loved people and animals. i know it is not easy, thank you for joining us. it is a dumb question, but how are you holding up? >> it is hard, we're going day by day, at first it was hour by hour, day by day. >> sometimes minute by minute. >> sometimes minute by minute, it changes. it changes. >> i always thought of grief as it coming in waves. >> it does, and every day for us is a new first. you know, we're doing new things with the three of us. it's a new first. >> getting through the holidays must have been so hard.
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>> yes and no. at first we thought how are we going to do christmas? but christmas is about hope and it is about peace, and i think through the entire situation there was a hope that some day we're going to see catherine again. she's safe. she's safer than we could ever make her. so we made christmas about what christmas is about. and christmas in our house is not going to be a sad time. it can't, that is not what we're about. >> you teach a religious class in the church. >> first graders. >> and you've gone back to teach catherine's class. >> i did. because when i was at the fire house and i knew that she was gone. i knew the minute that i saw one of her friend's mothers, that she was -- and that was the first word. she is safe. they're safe. and in retrospect, she was.
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and i knew at that point that if i didn't have my faith, i don't know where i'd be right now. and so teaching those babies and those other first graders that god loves them and that jesus will take care of them, may not be the way we think he's going to take care of us. but some days i wonder how i will get through the day, but i get through the day. and they need to know that. it's so important. and it wasn't even a question. i said to my co-teacher, i'm coming back. >> it takes such strength, it is extraordinary. >> it's what we have to do. we owe it to our kids, we owe it to each other to be kind. and we owe it to each other to love each other and not to get wrapped up in the hatred and debate, and everything that came out of such a tragedy. they were first graders and teachers who loved their kids.
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they were administrators who gave their lives for the kids. we're not going to make it about hate. >> what do you want people to know about catherine? i know one of the things i heard you say is she loved animals. and you talked about looking out the window and seeing her with butterflies the first day of spring. >> that's it. she loved animals, every animal, small or large. not only did she love animals, she loved people, her teachers. she loved her family. there was just so much love with catherine. and that is how we remember catherine, all the love she gave us and the family and the animals. >> she just -- she would get the animals and put them all around her, and if they had clothes -- build-a-bear was a debacle. everybody would say get the clothes for the bears. and she wouldn't want them. because she loved the animals in their truest form. and i think it was just the
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innocence of her, so she would surround herself with animals. we couldn't see her at night, it was, let's find catherine. in spring, i never forget it. she loved the butterflies, and she would run and get her net and work it all spring. and then in the middle of the summer, the red hair flying, and you'd look out, the wind would be blowing and she'd be crouched in the garden. she'd do it every year, she caught this little butterfly in her hand. and she would talk to it, who knows what she was saying. and she'd send it on his way. it was perfect. she would always say so and so is so kind. so and so is so kind. and i think that the animals knew that she was so kind. and she just loved it. she loved every bit. and so when we decided that we were going to remember catherine and what were we going to do? do we do a building, what do we do? we're going to build her the animal sanctuary and bring all the animals to her. >> and she used to kiss her hand, i understand? >> yes, yes.
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she would -- she did it the morning she got on the bus. every morning -- she did not have a good time going to school at first. she missed us. and so in the morning, she would go to the bus and she would say i love you, and kiss your hand and push it into your heart. and she would say, i love you, i'm pushing it in all the way to your toes and you knew it, it was all the way to your toes. and she turned around, and i knew it all the way to my toes, from now until the butterfly gets to heaven to her. >> and you still feel it all the way to your toes? >> i do, i do. >> that's good. >> it is good. it is good. thank you so much for talking to us. i wish you strength. >> thank you. >> more now on the effort to reshape public policy in the wake of all of this. and in his state of the state address, governor malloy rejected the calls on more guns. how do you think this community
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is doing one month on? >> it's a remarkable community, great strength. honestly, father and mother you just spoke to are emblematic of the community. their strength will persevere, which is another thing i said during the address. so we move on. and the communities having discussions about what they want to do as a permanent memorial, what they want to do at the school. we're here to help them make those decisions and make sure those decisions are acted on. >> you wrote a letter to vice president joe biden and you said while connecticut may have some of the strongest gun control laws in the country, it is not enough. that gun control has to be addressed nationally. what specific points would you like to see included in federal gun legislation?
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>> well, it is pretty straightforward. number one, nobody should be able to buy a gun in the country without a background check. it is computerized. i can't get on an airplane or you can't get on an airplane without somebody checking to see if we're on a list to see if we should be on there. why should somebody be able to buy a potentially destructive instrument such as a gun, without a background check. and that includes, we have to be very clear, closing all loopholes. this loophole is what leads to guns coming to connecticut cities from gun shows in florida and virginia and elsewhere, where there is no background check. you can't do that in the state of connecticut. it shouldn't be allowed. and then of course -- >> but the problem with the nra, sorry, go ahead. >> the whole thing with these magazines that carry 30 bullets is crazy. first of all, an assault weapon, that's what we're talking about, becomes an assault weapon in most cases once you connect it to that magazine. a lot of these goals are sold as single-shotguns but all you have
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to do is connect it with that 30-round magazine and all of a sudden you have a very destructive instrument which by the way has been designed in essence to kill people. people don't go hunting with those semiautomatic weapons, nor do they protect their homes with these kinds of instruments. these instruments are for killing. that's what they're for. we have to limit that. and then third, we talked about the magazines and permitting. thirdly we have to have an assault weapons ban that works and has a broad definition so manufacturers don't sneak things by them. >> as you know, the president of the nra said a ban won't get through congress. to that you say what? >> if it doesn't it's because the nra won't let it happen and unfortunately there will be other instances where these weapons are used in the way any were used in columbine or aurora or newtown. this is a movement, an
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awakening, i think, that started in newtown when 20 children could be lost in an instant because we don't have a weapons ban and a magazine ban that we once had in this nation going back to 2004. this is a wake-up call about who we are and what we are, and how we want to be perceived and whether we want our children to be safe. and i think round one, two, three, in some senses may go the wrong way. but i don't think the people in newtown or the people of aurora or the people of columbine are ever going to forget what happened to their communities. quite frankly, i think things are changing now. let's get the things there are common agreement on. almost everybody in their right mind agrees you should have a background check to buy a firearm. almost everybody in this country within their right minds agrees we shouldn't have 30 magazine clips. let's get the things we are in agreement on done, we can have that fight later. i predict there will be other
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mass murders and each time the nra will have to come forward and defend that position. it's going to get harder and harder and harder to do. >> governor malloy, i appreciate your time tonight. let us know what you think, online, follow me on twitter, @andersoncooper. and commander kelly and his wife, gabrielle giffords. and also country star kenny chesney, as our special "united in newtown" continues. ♪ amazing grace ♪ how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ♪
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the fire house where children were taken after the shooting for safety and to be reunited with their parents in the hours after the shooting, now on the roof of that firehouse, 26 stars, one for each life taken at sandy hook elementary a month ago today. tomorrow, vice president biden's gun violence task force is expected to give president obama recommendations for preventing another tragedy. >> my starting point is not to worry about the politics. my starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works. what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence? >> the new polling from gallup shows 58% of americans now favor stricter gun laws compared to 43% a year before sandy hook. former congresswoman gabby giffords and her husband mark kelly have formed a political action group to push for new legislation.
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i spoke to mark kelly a bit earlier today. commander kelly, first of all, how is your wife doing? how is her recovery going? >> gabby is doing great. she has a little cold right now. she doesn't get those frequently, but she's not feeling so well today, but in general, she's doing really, really well. she continues to improve each month, and she's got a very positive outlook about her recovery and so do i. >> you both went to newtown recently. i'm curious what that was like for you and what you said there and what families said to you. >> it was very difficult. we met in one of the neighbors' houses with a bunch of young couples. and it seemed every time we turned around, i was looking at a photo of, you know, some bright-eyed 6-year-old or 7-year-old who was no longer with us, it was really, really difficult. i mean, there's not really much
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you can say. we were just there to offer our support. it was a difficult trip. >> what do you specifically want to see happen in terms of whether it's gun control, background checks? what are you specifically hoping to see happen, to change? >> well, our organization, americans for responsible solutions, wants to focus on four things. first of all, we want to educate people on the issue. but, you know, we believe, gabby and i believe that there are four basic things that we need to do to make this country safer. we're not going to get rid of all the gun violence, but first of all, a universal background check will prevent some criminals and some of the mentally ill from obtaining a firearm. secondly, a high-capacity magazine was used in tucson, aurora, used in newtown. those are really made for the military, to kill a lot of people at once. the mental health issue, almost in every one of these mass shootings, it involved a young man who has some form, often
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schizophrenia, which is often easily treated if you can get those individuals into a system where they have treatment and don't have access to a weapon. and finally, it's very easy to get access to an assault weapon in the country. from my experience in the military, i spent 25 years in the navy. assault weapons are good at killing a lot of people at once. that's something that should be and is designed for the military. >> i know you're a gun owner, your wife is a gun owner, but the nra is essentially saying that the answer lies in arming people in schools. that there should be an armed person in every school. do you think that's part of the solution? >> personally, i don't think so. you know, i don't think that will work. gabby and i are both very strong supporters of the second amendment. i defended the constitution. i defended the second amendment flying in combat over iraq and kuwait. you know, defending our country. gabby owns a gun. i own a gun. this really isn't about the second amendment.
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i don't believe it is. this is about gun safety, and it's about safety of the public. so you know, i don't buy the argument from the gun lobby that there's some sort of slippery slope. you know, i applaud the fact that the nra and the gun lobby realizes that there's a problem. but the solution of putting a security guard with a gun in every school is not something that i feel will work. i have flown in combat. it gets very chaotic when you're shot at multiple times. friends of mine who were members of s.e.a.l. team six, the same experience they had, they don't think this would work, either. then what do you do? do you put a security guard on a school bus? how about in a church or in a movie theater? when does it end? but it really comes down to congress doing the right thing and coming up with some responsible common sense changes to gun violence laws, and i think if we do that, we can reduce the number of deaths in
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this country from mass shootings, but also from this, you know, this daily 90 to 100 murders that happen each day. >> you do hear the nra pushing back and pushing back hard. all of the ideas of any kind of gun control measures, they basically just rejected and talked about, you know, mental health databases or putting armed people in schools. so where do you see common ground? >> well, certainly right off the bat, i mean, the mental health issue is a significant issue. so i believe that needs to be addressed. so there's a little bit of common ground there. you know, i have spoken to a lot of members of the nra. i have a lot of friends who are members of the nra. 75% of nra members believe you should have a background check before buying a gun. that's certainly something that i would hope that the leadership in the gun lobby in some time, maybe not today or tomorrow, but maybe over the next coming weeks, i mean, this is a very political issue.
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as you know, you know, money and politics kind of drive the discussion on a lot of these issues. so this is going to take some time. but you know, i've got friends also in nra leadership. and some of them are reasonable people, and i think we can come to some common sense solutions for this very serious problem. >> commander kelly, i appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you. just ahead tonight, a show of support that no one expected now fills an entire warehouse here in newtown. more than 150,000 condolence letters from across the globe. what strangers wrote to the families they never met and why it's made a difference. we'll be right back, from newtown. this is america.
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for the newtown families, there's been no map to help them
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through their pain, through their grief and loss but they haven't been alone since they've tried to find their way. soon after the shooting, letters began arriving. a flood of letters, literally from around the world. what happened a month ago was felt across the globe. here's gary tuchman. >> reporter: since the shootings one month ago, more than 150,000 condolence letters have been sent to newtown. and these are the volunteers who open and read them. >> i am a former public school teacher, a current college professor, an old man, and a grandpa who knows none of you but my heart breaks for each of you. >> after hearing stories of one of the teachers being willing to shield her students, i was inspired. if i die for my future students, i will have lived a worthwhile life. >> no one should have to experience extreme amounts of pain that you have. with all of my love, rachel. >> i have a 6-year-old brother. i couldn't live without him.
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you'll be in my prayers, those kids never got to live their life. when people say batman was a superhero, they're wrong. the adults who sat in front of the little kids and got shot are the real superheroes. >> reporter: the letters come from all over the world. this is from china. this from the u.k. >> this has saddened the hearts of all around the world. may god watch over you in your time of sorrow. this is from the davies family and pullen family in south wales, britain. >> reporter: the letters are heartfelt, meaningful and emotional. they also often come with money. for example, this one from an angela floor riz in pennsylvania. this letter is very thick because it's full of box tops, and she writes, enclosed, although not much, are some box tops for education. she also enclosed a check for $15 to the sandy hook elementary
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school. there's also this letter from an autry in florida. this contains a $100 check for the pta. then there's this letter that comes from draper, utah, the sanderson children. this is very touching. dear people, i'm sorry about your kids. i feel so bad for you. it feels like there's no christmas. here's some money for you. and attached from a 7-year-old named ally, four pennies. the money will go to whomever it's directed to go to. if it's not clear, it will go to charity. as for the letters? >> i think many will become part of our permanent memorial. we collected them to make them a sacred soil or a product like a brick or block that will become part of our permanent memorial. >> reporter: and then there is this, a huge warehouse full of donations, the majority of which are stuffed animals of every size.
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>> we have just about 48,000 stuffed animals. >> reporter: 48,000. there are also more than 1,800 boxes of school supplies, more than 400 boxes of toys. people from all over the world have sent donations that are meant for the siblings of the children who were killed and also for the children of newtown. for example, barbie bicycles and other bicycles. 51 bicycles have arrived here. and here's hot wheel sets, about 20 of them. also, snow sleds. opening all of this is physically and emotionally overwhelming, but it's also therapeutic and so moving. >> your community has shown great strength during an unspeakable tragedy. it's people like you who inspire humanity. >> high heart breaks in a thousand ways for your pain. i am 83 years old, so my time here is short. when i get to heaven, i will hug and hold your little ones until
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you get there. this is my solemn promise to you. >> so moving to hear those. for the people who are volunteering, it's got to be so difficult. they're reading every single one. >> there's no training for this. these are volunteers and they come and sit there for hours opening letter after letter. it's redundant. physically it gets hard. but then they have avowed to read each one. and then about after an hour, half an hour, it gets emotional overwhelming and you have to stop. you have to take a break. it's a lot of work. 150,000 letters. >> it's incredible they're taking the time to do that. >> i think it's beautiful and wonderful they have made a promise to read each and every letter. >> and they're forwarding them on to families. gary, appreciate that, a really lovely report. sandy hook's students are settling into their temporary school. we'll hear how that transition is going and also what the future might hold for their old
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sandy hook students are settling into their new school, the former chalk hill middle school in nearby monroe, connecticut. it's been given a makeover, including familiar furniture and a new paint job in sandy hook's colors. classes began on january 3rd. you can imagine what an emotional day that was. our gary tuchman spoke to amy as her daughter ella was getting ready to go back. here's what she said then. >> it's mixed emotions. you know, it's good. she needs to go back. they all need to go back. they say the best thing you can do is get back to your normal
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routine, while that's been one of the hardest things you can do. i'm sure they'll be safe. i'm sure thaschool is going to be like ft. knox today. at the same point, you're worried. the fear is how are they going to react? >> the children have been in their new classrooms eight days. it's a transition that will no doubt take a lot of time. in the meantime, public meetings are being held to discuss what will be done with their old school. the first was yesterday. more than 200 people came. janet robinson is superintendent of newtown public schools. she joins me now, along with debbie liedline, chairwoman of the newtown school board. appreciate you both being with us. >> thank you. >> how are the students adjusting? >> everybody is in a little different place, but the day that the children came in off the buses the very first day, i'm telling you, those children didn't just walk off the buses. they hopped, they skipped. when they saw their teachers waiting for them, they hugged them. they were happy to be back. i think getting back in a routine is helping them a great deal.
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>> in terms of kinds of questions people have had, what has it been like over the last month? >> i think people are trying to come to grips with what happened and what the future is going to be. i think that's one of the biggest questions. also, they want to be insured that going forward, their children are going to be safe and that their needs are going to be met based on what happened. >> in terms of counseling, you had counseling available to both adults and kids. >> right. we've had wonderful support in the way of counseling. and that will continue. it's important that we support them. it's not just an educational environment. it's wanting the children to be totally, wholly healthy. so we are continuing our counseling. >> what do you think will happen to the sandy hook elementary? >> they're having the community conversations, so people have an opportunity to express their opinion. and then ultimately, the town leaders will make a decision as to what will happen with that building. >> because right now the kids are being educated away. there's been talk of dividing up the class.
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you want to keep the classes together? >> it's important. the teachers, the students, the parents, all of us want to keep the students together. you know, that's a wonderful thing about being able to use chalk hill, we were able to keep them together during this transition time. >> what do you want people to know a month later about how things are? >> well, first of all, we want our community to know that we hear them loud and clear when our sandy hook community says they want to be kept together. i think monroe gave us a beautiful gift in they gave us a school that we could use immediately after the shooting and we were able to move forward and keep those kids and those teachers and those families together, because that's really what the elementary school was all about, about family. we think that's critical in helping the healing process progress and the fact they're together. >> you must be so proud of how your educators have handled this. not just on that day but subsequently. >> very proud.
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exactly what i would expect from these teachers and other staff members, too. everyone has bonded together. they've gone over and oned to make everything as safe for the children. and as i said, we are about teaching. we need our children, so they were anxious to have the kids come back. they've done things that were extra. some of the teachers actually called the students and had pizza parties before school started so they could ease them back into the framework of being a classroom again. >> you're actually going to washington on wednesday to meet on school safety. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> what is your message? what do you think needs to be done? >> well, i think my message is really to represent the staff and the families and children of sandy hook. and let them know what happened. and tell them that this is a school and a community that is really safe. if this could happen in sandy hook, newtown, connecticut, it can happen anywhere. >> do you feel like you have
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answers, like you know what needs to change? or do you feel like you're just one voice of many and you want to start a discussion? >> well, i certainly feel the discussion is important. i think that, above all, children have a right to be -- to live their lives and grow up healthy. i want to do anything i can to advocate for children growing up healthy and not having their life shortened too soon. >> i appreciate both of you taking the time to talk to us. thank you so much. thank you for all you're doing. >> thank you. >> all the best. wish you the best. >> newtown had to deal with funeral after funeral. the unthinkable task of trying to say good-bye. coming up, how the town came together and continues to do so, and how they're handling their changed lives from a spiritual standpoint. we'll be right back. >> announcer: you never know when, but thieves can steal your identity and turn your life
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on friday, december 14th, i put two children on the bus and only one came home. i pray that no mother, father, grandparent or caregiver of children ever have to go through this pain. in our home, our faith, our family and our friends have helped carry us through this unbearable pain. >> that was the mother of ana marquez-greene, a little girl who loved to sing and dance, a little girl with a beautiful spirit and heart. the title on her memorial fund website is something ana would often say, love wins. the families of the victims of newtown have vowed that they won't be forgotten.
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noah pozner made a big impression on everybody he meant. he loved animals tacos, and most of all, his family. his sister danielle joins me now. so sorry about your loss. how are you, how is the rest of the family holding up? >> right now, we're just trying to take it day by day, but of course, sometimes that's easier said than done. so i often find myself thinking about the future and about how noah will never get to have the life he was supposed to have. he'll never get to be a man. but i guess the one thing -- the one positive thing i can say has come out of this is that my family has learned to appreciate each other in ways that we never have before. and you know, just like the rest of my family has said, noah adored his family more than anything else in the world, and i think that would make him proud that we have all grown closer instead of been torn apart by this. >> he used to joke about, or actually used to claim he was a manager at a taco factory, right? >> yeah. >> because he loved tacos? >> yeah, it was his dream to work in a taco factory.
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he used to tell us all the time, i have my part-time job at the taco factory. and i would say, no, you don't, how do you get there, you can't even drive. he would say, don't worry about it. it's a secret. he was full of jokes, always. >> are you able to -- many times when people experience loss, it's hard sometimes to talk about the person and to keep kind of keep them in conversation. are you and your family, are you able to talk about him? >> yeah. i mean, it's not as great as -- what he went through and how his life ended was horrible, and it's the least we can do to honor his short life. he didn't get to live the life he was supposed to live. he only got six years and we owe it to him to keep him alive by talking about him to everyone. we want everyone to feel the loss we feel because it's an enormous loss. >> and you have a younger sister? >> yes, i have two younger sisters. >> i understand they still speak of him in the first person.
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>> they do. they talk about him like he's still here, and whether it's because they haven't fully accepted it or just because that's the way -- or because they want to keep him alive, i'm not sure, but i think that just the fact that they talk about him like he's still around, it helps us imagine him as if he were with us. i always think about what he would say if he were here. and in that way, he stays alive in my mind because i can imagine exactly what his reaction would be to different situations. for me, that really keeps him here with us. >> that's nice. >> yes. >> you're going back to school for the first time since the shooting. >> yes. >> that's going to be hard, i imagine, being away from your family and being around people who haven't been through what you have? >> absolutely. it's definitely going to be hard but i think my mission, i'm not just going to sweep this under the rug like it didn't happen. i want to raise awareness about it and i want everyone to remember noah, too. life won't be like it was before this happened.
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of course, i'm going to still have my friends there for me and, but it's not going to be the same. so i'll do whatever i can to, you know, i guess it will be a new normal, as people say. >> yeah. i want to the bring in rabbi praver who officiated at noah's funeral. nice to see you again. you talk to someone like danielle, the strength of the families is really just extraordinary. >> it really is. i'm very proud of them. they have been very resilient, and i'm happy to know them and wish that this never happened, of course. >> how, a month on, what are you hearing from families, what are you hearing from people? how do you think the community is doing? >> i think the response has been one -- we have choices, and most of the people in this community chose compassion, chose love, chose care as powerful forces.
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i think the reverend james forbes once said when tragedy strikes, you have to make it pay dearly, and you have to meet destruction and death with grace and with love. and that's what this community has been doing, at least in these first four weeks. we still have a long way to go. we know from the families, there's a lot of grief still, a lot of choices to make. it will be a challenge for us, but i think so far, that compassion, that grace has been carrying us. >> it's often, you know, sort of adrenaline takes you through the first week or two, and there's funerals to plan, but then once the crowds die away and you're just left with, you know, your immediate family, it can be particularly hard. have you seen that? how do you feel people are doing? >> yes. i feel there is danger of depression setting in and people despairing, so we have to keep it up. this is just the beginning.
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we have a lot of work to do, you know, and by the way, you have been doing a fabulous job, you know, i really admire the compassion you have extended to all of these families. >> thank you. it's been an honor to be here. >> i think, anderson, one of the things that we know from our religious traditions is that we have early on all of these rituals that we do as part of the grieving process, when grief is so raw. that's what sustains so many of us, but what you're highlighting is there comes a time when all those rituals, those things we have drawn strength from, you know, kind of disappear. and people are left to return to life, you know, kind of supposed to be back to normal, but for so many of our families, there isn't that normal life again. so that's where the challenges come to how do we rebuild lives that honor, as we're hearing here, that honor those that we lost, but also affirm we're not victims or we're not being lost
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in the midst of this just grief that kind of spirals away from us. but really affirms those that we have lost and also affirms what we want most to be about. >> one of the things danielle was saying about going back to school. i lost a brother about a month before i went back to school. it was very strange to be around people who had not experienced loss and people whose world continued to spin normally, and i felt and i think many people who have experienced loss feel that their world has stopped. >> that's right. >> what do you -- do you find people's faith strengthened? do you find it questioned? what have you seen over this last month? it's different for everybody, i'm sure. >> i think it's been an increase of faith because this was very tragic, but there was a tremendous light that came out. you were there, you saw the prayer vigil on that sunday night. >> right. >> and there was something very magical that happened that
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night. that's what really -- we're not the experts on the guns, we're not the experts on the mental health, but we are in that field of spirituality, and we want, you know, the good example that our clergy group did here in newtown to spread through the country and just all of these different things that go on, they all contribute to the general culture of violence like behind us here on this town hall, it used to say just a few days ago, a banner reading "we will birth a culture of peace." and that, you know, is a spontaneous statement we all agreed with. and we hope that the listeners out there in the house of worship all through the country will get together, the jews, the muslims, the christians, the buddhists, the sikhs, all get together because the byproducts of our religion is that love thing.
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it all starts with love. and it's all going to end with love. >> thank you for being with us. i really appreciate it. i wish you the best. i wish you the best at school. my best to your family, thank you so much. we'll be right back with country superstar kenny chesney's tribute to the victims. especially a little fan, a little girl, "amazing grace."
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during the time that i was in newtown in the dark days right after the shootings, i spoke with the parents of 7-year-old grace mcdonnell, and
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i spoke with them in the face of their unimaginable loss. i will always think of the bright young person, who was talented whenever i hear the song "amazing grace." grace said that kenny chesney was one of her favorites, she and her mom sang his songs as they waited for the school bus. kenny chesney agreed to sing "amazing grace" in her honor and all the people of newtown, connecticut. as we looked at the families, we remembered them and wished them continued peace and strength. ♪ amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ♪
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♪ i once was lost but now i'm found was blind but now i see ♪ ♪ was grace that taught my heart to fear ♪ ♪ and grace my fear relieved ♪ how precious did that grace